In response to uncontrolled trash piling up in the North Prospect business area, community members rallied together to pick up 29 bags of litter after weeks of weather delays.
The cleanup event, organized by resident Michael Chrasta’s community organization, began early Thursday morning, and was assisted by over 20 people from multiple organizations and businesses in the area.
“Thanks to the 22 volunteers who teamed up to clean the fields along Interstate Drive,” Kathy Chrasta, Michael’s wife, posted to Nextdoor.
CU-CitizenAccess previously reported many citizens were not alone in their frustrations with the litter, and found it difficult to submit complaints and track over time. Additionally, the city reported it had no current plans to add more public trash cans.
The clear, sunny day began with the City of Champaign providing buckets and pickers for the day, and soon after employees from Meijer and volunteers from the county YouthBuilders arrived.
Josh Kietzman, a manager at Meijer in Champaign, said the store’s employees jumped at the opportunity to help and were motivated by the desire to make a positive impact on the community.
Keitzman also participates in local meetings and discussions about the community, and Chrasta said Keitzman has been terrific throughout the whole process.
“…he gets it and has been nothing but completely open and supportive,” Chrasta said. “That is why it is so important that this never become an opportunity to bash the corporations… they have been very helpful. This is a people problem, and a problem in our culture.”
Within 40 minutes, the Meijer employees had wrapped halfway around a field next to Walmart and collected an odd assortment of trash, including metal scrap, food wrappers and plastic. The YouthBuild volunteers, mostly teenagers, covered the rest, particularly near the bus stop.
“One of the pillars of responsibility in the YouthBuild program is the commitment to community service and youth leadership development,” YouthBuild Education Coordinator Shevone Myrick said. “Through community events such as this, we hope to involve and integrate our students into the pride in community preservation, a sense of duty beyond one’s own existence, and an example of exemplary service to others.”
She added, “Furthermore, we believe that the skills acquired during this event are applicable to the home renovation/restorative assignments students learn on our construction job sites.”
The two target fields ran along Interstate Drive, and intersected with the northmost part of the business area on North Prospect Ave. near Walmart. The two main fields are owned by Devonshire Realty, which did not return a request for comment. The field maintenance schedule is unclear, but one recently had its perimeter mowed in late April.